Campfire Notes

BE YOU: What Stresses you Out? What Calms you Down?

BE YOU: What Stresses you Out? What Calms you Down?

BE YOU Week 3: What Stresses you Out? What Calms you Down?

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

What are things that really stress you out or make you feel not so great? It is good to identify these things so that we can try to avoid them or work on strategies to manage them.

This week, we want to focus on identifying those stresses and identifying ways to calm our bodies and cope in those moments. Emotional regulation is an important life skill that should be talked about and practiced like any other skill. As we mature and gain life experience, we find new ways to calm our stresses and new ways to cope with our emotions. It’s important to learn how to process our emotions in a positive way.

Our very own Audrey “Sunshine” Monke has created a helpful list of ten ways to teach kids to calm down. Although not all of these will work for each individual, we hope you will be able to gain some valuable tools from this list.

  1. Go to a “chill spot.”
    • Designate a spot that is strictly for calming down. Maybe even have some calming activities stored in that area (coloring supplies, books, etc).
  2. Go outside for a walk or run.
    • This can be a group activity or solo, but try to include some quiet reflective time.
  3. Take some deep breaths.
    • Focus on deeper, slower breaths rather than shallower, faster breaths.
  4. Count to 10 (or 100).
    • Count in your head while focusing on your breathing before responding to a situation.
  5. Listen to some soothing music.
    • Make a playlist of happy songs, not angry or aggressive songs.
  6. Think of something you’re grateful for.
    • Jot down something your grateful for when you are feeling down. Use pen and paper or even type it in your phone so that you can revert back to it at a later time.
  7. Look at a funny meme or video.
    • A good belly laugh is good for the soul. Look up your favorite memes or even videos on your phone.
  8. Hug.
    • Hug a loved one. While you are hugging, focus on your breathing. It will calm both parties.
  9. Loosen up.
    • Focus on breathing and counting while stretching or doing your favorite yoga poses.
  10. Sit quietly and have a drink of water, cup of tea, or piece of fruit.
    • You could even include this in the “chill spot”.

Practice some of these techniques the next time you need to calm down and figure out which ones work best for you!

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

When have you felt your worst over the past few weeks, or even months? Maybe you felt frustrated, angry, or sad in certain situations. It’s important to identify these things within ourselves, just like we identify all the things or times that get us excited or happy!

What works best for you to help yourself feel better when you are stressed out? There are many different ways to calm down and feel better in a stressful situation. Camp is a great place to destress and calm our bodies. Being in the outdoors and exercising (camp allows us to move our bodies in so many different ways) are among the many ways to help ourselves unwind from our stresses.

Do more of what makes you feel great! Think back to last week’s post and what puts you into “flow.” The times you are in “flow” are usually times when you are doing something that is calming for you and that allows you to put a lot of energy into something you enjoy. The focus that you put into your “flow” activities are sure to be calming and put you in a happy mood!


Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Make a chart of things that commonly stress you out or put you in a bad mood. Beside each one, write a calming strategy that might work to calm you down during one of those situations. When you are having a bad day or moment, go to your list and see which strategy you could try out! If it works, put a star next to it so you know that you can do that one again. If it doesn’t really work for you, that’s okay! Try another one until you find a few that you know you can count on!


Be You!

10 Ways to Teach Kids to Calm Down

Learning to Breathe

7 Reasons to Get Outside

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Be You: Find Your “Flow”

Be You: Find Your “Flow”

BE YOU Week 2: Find Your “Flow”

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
– Roald Dahl

This week for our BE YOU theme, we’re focusing on finding activities that get you into a state of “flow.”

Flow is a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”) that refers to a state of optimal experience and involvement in an activity during which we are performing at our best.

Watch Dr. Csikszentmihalyi talk about flow in his TED Talk, “Flow, the Secret to Happiness.”


When we’re in “flow,” we are doing something we really, really enjoy. We can’t wait to do the activity again, and we feel a lot of positive emotions while participating in the activity. We can stick with it for hours without even noticing the time going by. In fact, when we’re in flow, it’s hard to stop whatever we’re doing. Flow is different from pleasure – simply doing things that are enjoyable like watching TV, scrolling on social media, or shopping. Instead, flow activities usually are demanding and take our full attention and concentration.

People achieve flow in all different ways, including while playing a musical instrument, playing a sport, writing, painting, attending a concert, bird watching, riding a horse, or running, to name just a few. Often we cannot relate to the passion others have for their personal “flow” activity, since their enthusiasm and passion seem inordinately high. For the lucky ones among us, we find flow in our daily work.

The younger you are, the more likely it is that you’ve been in flow today. Young children excel at getting into a state of flow, usually during unstructured play time. As they create their pretend worlds, “cook” in the sand box, build a fort, or swing high on a swing, they are joyful and time flies by for them. Young children are experts at happily living in the moment. As we get older, however, we need to be more aware of getting ourselves into that engaged, amazing state that we enjoyed when we were younger.

Here’s an official definition of flow:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

And here are some ideas of possible flow activities from Deann Ware, Ph.d:
Physical activities such as sports, yoga, dance, and martial arts
Outdoor challenges such as hiking
Music–writing, playing, mixing
Art–painting, sculpture, mixed media, pottery
Do-It-Yourself projects, such as home improvement
Working with animals
Cooking and baking
Software development/coding
Needlework–sewing, knitting, cross stitch
Horseback riding
What you do for work (hopefully!)

This week’s #GACbeyou challenge

What activities get you into flow? When have you been doing something that you are so engaged that you’ve completely lost track of time? That’s a fun thing to explore as we continue to delve into our “BE YOU” theme. Flow states are a great clue as we figure out who we are and what makes us our best self!

What are new activities you want to try this summer?

What makes your heart “sing?”

Sometimes, we need to explore different activities before we figure out which activities get us into that awesome state of flow. Don’t worry if you haven’t found that awesome, engaged state yet. Sometimes, it takes awhile to explore, and many adults haven’t even figured it out yet! So start now, while you have some free time, exploring different activities – creative, athletic, academic, etc. – and find your flow!


Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Make a list of different possible flow activities that you want to explore. Consider different hobbies, sports, and music you have some interest in learning more about.

Try one new activity from the list you made.

More Flow activity ideas:

From Designing Your Life:
Energy Engagement Worksheet

Good Time Journal Activity Log


Be You!

Read more about flow in this post on Sunshine Parenting.

Helping Kids Find Flow

Ways to Teach Kids Flow

Learn more about FLOW.

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